New Zealand, week two: cruising

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I included this map of New Zealand, not because it is so helpful, but just because it is so cute! We boarded our ship and were pleasantly surprised to find that the room I had chosen was just as spectacular as I had imagined (how often does that happen?).

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Azamara Journey, Spa Suite. (photo credit: azamaraclubcruises.com)

Blue Eyes loves a luxurious bathroom, and this was the nicest cruise ship bathroom we have experienced. What fun sitting in that soaking tub watching the gorgeous scenery pass us by.

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Our cruise ship left Auckland and headed straight up north to the Bay of Islands. We docked in Paihia. This is about the time the weather started getting dicey.

Bay of Islands

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We were pleasantly surprised to find out that this cruise ship has a pretty decent room service menu. Often cruise ship room service is less than stellar and being able to eat in the room while getting ready for an early morning excursion is a luxury to us.

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I am not fond of ship tenders as it is (the small boats they use to take passengers from ship to shore when docking is not an option), and when the seas are rough, well, not fun. The water was a lovely green though, and by the time we boarded the bus for our excursion to the Kauri Tree Forest, the rain had subsided.

First stop on our excursion was actually to another glow worm cave. This cave was not nearly as interesting as the one we had gone to in Waitomo with Paula. Again, no photography allowed inside. This time instead of sitting in a boat gently gliding through the caves, we were walking along a narrow path with far fewer glow worms.

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Entrance to Glow Worm Cave.

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Someone else’s photo inside the Waitomo glow worm cave (photo credit: imgur.com)

Although the glow worms make for a pretty spectacle in the dark, they are really insect larva (they look like a maggot) and the chemicals they produce react with oxygen in the air to generate light. They spin sticky threads from the roof of the cave, and use the light from their tails to attract other insects and trap them in the threads for a tasty meal! (newzealand.com). Pretty, but I tried not to think much more about it.

I’m a huge fan of nature, the outdoors, beaches, and forests. In Portland, we live right in the middle of a forest… and yet we are just three miles from downtown. We walk our dogs in a forest every day. We don’t have sidewalks (grrr) but we do have forest.

Ruby (and Paula) helped us pick our cruise excursions in advance. We thought Bay of Islands would be the one chance of our trip to see the magnificent Kauri Trees. As it turns out, they have Kauri in Australia too! Lucky us. We spent a lot of time in forests. 🙂

This particular adventure took us to the Puketi Nature Trail in the Puketi Forest.

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Looking up to the top of the Kauri.

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The oldest Kauri Tree in the Puketi forest. Approximately 1200 years old. The oldest known Kauri is actually in another area of the north island and rumor has it the wood from that one tree could build 19 houses!

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Tree Ferns. Love them!

We did not get wet and by the time we returned to our ship, the sea was a bit calmer. Unfortunately, that was to be a short-lived phenomena.

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Paihia dock. Bay of Islands.

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Our neighbor ship for the day was Cunard’s Queen Victoria.

I ended up having to take more dramamine on this cruise than I have taken combined my whole life. It was a rocky one. After leaving Bay of Islands, we had a brief respite from the weather, and I chose that time to take a fast walk around the ship’s jogging track.

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It may not have been stormy, but it was less than calm and I had numerous staff people watching out for me on my 70 minute walk. I think they were relieved when I just went inside already.

As the night wore on, the winds (and the waves) picked up. We were supposed to dock in Tauranga at 8:00am, but by 8:30am, we were nowhere near land, and we weren’t going to be. So there went our excursion to the Rotorua Thermal pools. That is when we decided we would definitely have to return to New Zealand. We can’t NOT see the Rotorua thermal pools! Right?!? 😉

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An unexpected day at sea.

We ended up relaxing on the ship for the day (after taking my requisite dramamine every 12 hours of course). What choice did we have really, LOL. The wifi was horrible on the ship and we only had one pass (they are very expensive, especially since half the time it doesn’t work). Blue Eyes and I traded back and forth sitting there staring at the little bars on our phones appearing and disappearing, and that’s when I decided I wouldn’t be blogging during the cruise. The ship had an amazing library, so we took advantage of that… plus the never ending supply of food, everywhere. We also had a really wonderful room, so we didn’t have to jostle with the other passengers for a comfy place to sit and relax. Most of the time the ship was so rocky it was too dangerous to use the elliptical inside, and too wet and slippery to use the track outside. Crazy! I actually had a legitimate excuse not to exercise when I didn’t even want one!

Napier

I’m pretty sure EVERYONE was thrilled when we were able to dock in Napier the next morning, guests and crew alike.

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Docked in Napier. Perhaps I don’t need to say this, but lumber is one of New Zealand’s largest exports.

Our excursion for the day was to Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay. Not only is this an incredibly beautiful spot in the country, perched out over the South Pacific Ocean, but it is also a bird sanctuary and the breeding site of over 3000 pairs of Australasian gannets. The land is a privately owned sheep and cattle farm. There is also a fancy resort and golf course on the property.

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Cape Kidnappers was named after an attempt by local Maori to abduct the servant of a member of Captain Cook’s crew (thinking the servant was Maori) aboard HMS Endeavour during landfall there on October 15, 1769. The crew member was actually Tahitian (not Maori). Cook’s journal states that the Tahitian boy, named Tiata, was in the water near the Endeavour when a Maori fishing boat pulled alongside and dragged him aboard. Sailors from Endeavour’s deck immediately opened fire on the fishing boat killing two Maori and wounding a third. Tiata jumped overboard and swam back to the Endeavour, while the remaining Maori paddled their craft back to shore. (en.wikipedia.org)

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The Gannet Colony. The white birds with yellow heads are the mature gannet, the mottled gray birds are the youth (less than five years old), and the super fluffy one in the front middle is a baby. You can see mum cleaning his fluffy down.

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After visiting Cape Kidnappers, our tour guide dropped us in the small town of Napier.

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Napier has a unique concentration of 1930’s Art Deco architecture, built after much of the city was destroyed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake (en.wikipedia.org)

So, the town is adorable and has a lovely garden, lots of souvenir shops, cafes, and is right on the water. We walked through town, strolled through the gardens, then took advantage of a food cart with something we could not get on the cruise ship: fresh donuts! 🙂

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I do love a pretty green plant.

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Is this not the cutest little donut trailer, Donut Robot?

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Blue Eyes and I shared a freshly made cinnamon sugar donut. Usually a taste is all I need to satisfy my sugar craving. Pretty sure I could have eaten about three of those donuts in 10 seconds. But I didn’t.

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Napier was honestly the cutest town with the nicest people. As the last of the stragglers were boarding and the ship was leaving, this group of seniors in their old timey cars and jazz trio serenaded us all the way out of the port.

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Leaving port is my favorite time of day. Every pilot boat is a little different.

Wellington

I am going to start sounding like a broken record, but we fell in love with every single town and city in New Zealand. Wellington was no exception. Wellington is a pretty big city by New Zealand standards, but it felt like a town to us. I was a bit sad (upset) as we were arriving because I had booked my much needed hair color appointment for prior to arrival in Wellington not realizing that cruising through the sound would be so breathtakingly beautiful. I saw it through the salon windows, but was unable to take any photos.

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Here’s an aerial photo I pulled off a backpacking website, but I know they got it from somewhere else. I wish I had my own, from the sea, photos, but alas it was not to be. The day was this gorgeous though.

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This was our first truly sunny day since we boarded the ship in Auckland. Once again, people couldn’t wait to get onto dry land.

After disembarking, we immediately hopped on a tour bus and headed to Peter Jackson’s Weta Studios. This would be a highlight of the trip for Blue Eyes. Every picture I have at the studio has Blue Eyes in it. Blue Eyes with Gollum, Blue Eyes with Dumbledore, I mean  Gandolf, Blue Eyes with some big ugly bald guy with scars all over him, Blue Eyes drooling over the props, etc… The studio itself is not flashy, just lots and lots of actual props and costumes, weapons, etc… used in the many many films that the studio has worked on. The tours are given by artists who have actually worked on Weta projects, ours was a prop and costume artist. It was really quite interesting. We drove from the studio to Mount Victoria Park where some scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed.

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Mount Victoria Park

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Kent, our LOTR tour guide at the tippy top of Mount Victoria, Wellington.

We had the coolest tour guide for our Lord of the Rings tour. He was actually a Hobbit stunt double in all the movies (for the red headed guy). Blue Eyes kept calling him Kint. For some reason I thought this was the funniest thing. When we first boarded the bus, Kent said, in his super thick Kiwi accent, “Hoi me naim is Keent.” Now, I have already explained that both Blue Eyes and I had a bit of a sticky time with the thicker New Zealand accent, especially adding in slang and colloquialisms. Well, pretty sure what Kent said was…. “Hi, my name is Kent.” Blue Eyes never did make the connection between Keent and Kent and he just kept calling him Kint. It just sounds weird for someone with an American accent to try and pronounce things like a Kiwi. It just does.

Anyway, the view at the top of Mount Victoria was 360 degrees and it was spectacular. Unfortunately, the sun was really bright and getting a good picture facing Wellington was rather difficult.

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I was able to get a decent photo towards the airport and of a bunch of young folk having a picnic. It is a lovely spot.

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This photo I stole from somewhere. I wish the sun had cooperated with me.

That evening, we were treated to a traditional Maori performance at the Te Papa Museum.

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The Te Papa Museum in Wellington, NZ.

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First, we were honored with a Maori warrior’s welcome.

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The Kiwi actor and singer, Temuera Morrison led the group in traditional song.

And, most importantly (just kidding, sorta), I tasted my first New Zealand Pavlova!

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Pavlova meringue with cream, kiwifruit, and drizzled with chocolate. Perfect bite size pieces. It was super yummy. I am actually allergic to meringue, so this was it for me. Worth it!

Our second day in Wellington we were not so lucky with the weather. Actually, it poured down rain. POURED DOWN RAIN. We decided to take ourselves on a self-guided walking food tour. We donned our wet weather jackets. Coming from the Pacific Northwest coast of the US, we have lots of rain jackets.

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Top photo, our first day in Wellington from our cruise ship room. Bottom photo, our second day in Wellington.

Our first stop was a Modern Asian Hawker Food restaurant named Mr. Go’s. The berry tea was warming and comforting after walking in the rain, and the food was delicious. We opted for the spring rolls and the beef brisket and pork belly bao.

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Our next stop, fish & chips. The place we had wanted to eat at wasn’t open yet, so we went for our second choice, The Chippery. The fresh Tarahiki in a beer batter was pretty tasty.

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At this point I was stuffed like a piglet. I couldn’t eat any more. Blue Eyes was also full, but he wanted to stop into a NYC themed deli called Five Boroughs. We looked and looked and looked at the menu hoping there was some little space in our tummies to try something, but it was a no go. Instead we settled for hot chocolate. And even though I was so full, the hot chocolate was amazing and I finished it all. We were both thankful we had a good walk back to the ship because otherwise we may have exploded.

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I don’t know what it is about New Zealand hot chocolate, but it is super tasty and comes with these lovely marshmallows. I don’t even like marshmallows, but these were so fresh and pretty.

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Wellington Harbour.

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Leaving Wellington

And just like that… two weeks on New Zealand’s north island, gone. Next up, the south island.

New Zealand, week one: old friend

After a quick good-bye hug to Paula, we were off in Ruby’s little Suzuki Swift. Truth be told, Ruby did not recognize me when I walked right up to her at the meet-up spot. I recognized her right away. She looks exactly the same except her hair is now gray instead of brown. When we worked together, I was 18-19 years old, she was 32-33. It was a long time ago and although she had seen pictures of me on Facebook and on holiday cards, it took her a minute to make the connection. Although my face looks generally the same, I am a few pounds heavier than I was 30+ years ago (probably still close to 25 pounds), but more than that, I never wore my hair up back then. Yeah, I’m sure that was it. 🙂 No worries though because we picked up right where we left off all those years ago. She was like a cool big sister to me. Ruby is also an amazing tour guide. About 2/3 of our total time was spent on the North Island of New Zealand as this is where both Paula and Ruby live.

Ruby whisked us off to our first touristy destination of the day: The Hobbiton Movie Set, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Paula’s farm, actually. We took the two hour tour and it was interesting. Shhh, don’t tell anyone that I have not actually seen any of the Hobbit movies. It was fascinating to hear how Peter Jackson picked this particular farm, really just another working sheep farm. He and his location scout were flying over the area and he had something specific in mind. Jackson spotted an amazing tree right next to a pond (from a helicopter in the sky) and decided then and there that this farm was the perfect spot for a Hobbit Village.

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Bilbo Baggin’s House at Bag’s End.

The Shire is gorgeously maintained, with a community garden, pond, The Green Dragon Inn, and all the little Hobbit holes (houses) are really cute, most of them themed… a baker, a bee keeper, a potter, etc…

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Hobbit holes at The Shire. (photo credit: hobbitontours.com)

Ruby actually didn’t go on the tour with us as she had been twice before (and it is expensive!). She waited patiently and then we hopped in her little car and off we went to Rotorua.  We had decided that we would not visit the famous Rotorua thermal pools as we had chosen a cruise excursion that would take us there. Instead, we went to a Nature Park where we would be able to see the endangered Kiwi Bird in a hatching center, as well as other New Zealand wildlife in a natural habitat of trees and other plantings. The Kiwi is a flightless bird that is native to New Zealand. It didn’t need to fly, because prior to the introduction of numerous mammals to New Zealand by settlers, there were no native predators. At this point, some species of Kiwi are critically endangered.

Again, Ruby is an amazing guide. She has embraced her adopted home with a kind of passion and enthusiasm that is infectious. As we walked around the park, she talked non-stop about every plant and bird and reptile we spotted. From the Tuatara (looks similar to a lizard) to the Silver Fern, which like the Kiwi Bird, is a symbol of New Zealand.

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New Zealand Silver Fern, Green on the top, Silver underneath.

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Baby Kiwi (photo credit: backpackerguidenz.jpg)

Kiwis are nocturnal, so the entire habitat was dark with special lighting. No photos were allowed, but we were able to see an egg, a mama Kiwi, and a baby Kiwi. Very exciting.

We also saw other birds both at the Nature Park and during the rest of our trip to New Zealand. One of the most interesting birds to me, which we saw both on the ground and in the air, but were unable to get good photos of, is the Kea. On the ground it looks a bit like a brown/green parrot with a wicked looking beak. And the stories about the Kea bird are really quite something. Apparently they are very destructive, and very smart, and can be brutal predators. Farmers don’t like them because they can kill a sheep. They also like to hang around tourist destinations, especially on the south island, and chew apart cars and motorcycles. They can rip a windshield wiper right off a car, and often do.

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The New Zealand Kea (photo credit: blogs.thatpetplace.com)

The thing about the Kea though, is when they are in flight, they are the most beautiful bird I have ever seen.

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New Zealand Kea in flight (photo credit: somtren.com)

The park included numerous redwoods brought over from California and planted in Rotorua. The wood was harvested and used for building in the early 20th century. The park is set in a beautiful forest.

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A New Zealand California Redwood.

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One of my favorite plants was the native New Zealand tree fern. Known by its Maori name, Ponga. Look at that bark. Squeee! I love trees!

At this point we were only on day four of our tour of New Zealand and it had been a super loooong day. Ruby drove us back to her house in the area of Pukekohe, South of Auckland and asked us if we wanted to watch a movie. I was ready to collapse. Ruby is a real movie buff and she especially likes movies about New Zealand, movies filmed in New Zealand, sci-fi, and fantasy and apparently she is a bit of a night owl. I knew she and Blue Eyes would get along!

When Ruby first found out that I would be coming to New Zealand with Blue Eyes, I know she was not thrilled. It’s not because Ruby had never met him, and she was nervous about it. She wasn’t. She’s an outgoing lady. The truth is, Ruby is a betrayed spouse whose husband left her for the other woman. In fact, I knew Ruby was a betrayed wife before I knew I was!!! She has been dealing with that for the better part of 12 years. She knows Blue Eyes’ story. When I explained to her about sex addiction, I could tell she wasn’t really buying it. This was all by email. I had “found” Ruby again through Facebook about three months prior to dday. Just prior to dday, we had talked about me and Blue Eyes making a trip to New Zealand. She was thrilled and offered us a place to stay with her (remember, I did not even know there was such a person as Paula at this point). Ruby sent off a package to me with all kinds of brochures and information about New Zealand. That huge packet arrived ON DDAY. I know. ugh. I didn’t have the heart or the energy to contact Ruby for a WHOLE YEAR post dday. Ruby is a very sweet and patient woman. I told her everything. When we started discussing a trip to New Zealand, at that point, one year post, the discussion was about me flying to New Zealand, not Blue Eyes. She really felt like I needed to get away from my husband. At that point, I was still of the mind that getting away meant running away and I wasn’t about to run away from my own reality. And I didn’t. I stuck it out, every.single.hellish.day.of.it.

And then I found Paula, or Paula found me, or whatever. All of the sudden, New Zealand was on the MUST VISIT NOW list. Well, now took another 18 months or so… it takes a while to plan and book a five week trip Down Under. When all was said and done, Blue Eyes and I would make the entire trip together. As it turns out, and I knew it would, Ruby and Blue Eyes got along famously. Blue Eyes is actually a pretty likable guy, especially if you don’t get in the cross hairs of his sex addiction. Ruby and Blue Eyes probably have more in common with each other, perhaps, than they do with me. Yay! While they were watching The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogies (yawn), I had some much wanted alone time. Almost daily I made the 3-4 mile walk around Ruby’s neighborhood. The weather was beautiful.

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A gorgeous Pukekohe farm near Ruby’s house. Pukekohe crops include onions and Kumara (NZ sweet potato).

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I love love love plants and trees and flowers. I especially loved walking by this HUGE succulent every day on my walk. I think I’m going to paint it!

Ruby introduced us to her little town of Pukekohe and some of her favorite restaurants.

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I tried New Zealand corn fritters at the funky Cafe Kaos. Delicious!

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Speaking of funky restaurants, check out Whisk! Cafe. Never a dull moment in Pukekohe.

Ruby drove us to a beautiful beach close to her home. The north island west coast has black sand beaches.

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Our first foot prints in the black New Zealand sand.

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Kariotahi Beach.

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Kariotahi Beach.

We spent a whole day in the Hamilton area of the north Island with one of Ruby’s  friends… who is also a betrayed spouse whose husband left her for the other woman. Ruby’s friend is a real talker and a bit snoopy. Somehow we were on the topic of infidelity, and Ruby told her I was one of them, part of “the group” if you will, a betrayed wife. She then said, “oh, so how long have you two been together?” I said 33 years and she just stared at me. I could see her confusion. Ruby merely told her that we were a couple that made it through. The friend just stared at me and said, “Oh, huh, well… ” I merely stated the fact that Blue Eyes is a sex addict. And that was the end of that. We all got along famously.

We started at the beautiful (and free) Hamilton Gardens situated next to an area of the Waikato River. A huge section of the park is dedicated to themed gardens from around the world.

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Japanese themed garden.

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Tudor Themed Garden at Hamilton Gardens.

Don’t ask about the American themed garden… it was really sparse and strange, had a sorta mid century vibe, and included a big painting of Marilyn Monroe, and then some Adirondack chairs on a concrete patio? I don’t even remember what the plants were. I wanted to say, to no one in particular, pick a theme, any theme.

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Lunch at the gardens was an interesting affair. Blue Eyes and I had been trying to find some savory pies to try, so we shared a small meat pie and I ordered a Filo concoction filled with lamb and veg (yummy). Blue Eyes was eyeing something on the menu board called a Scandinavian Smorrebrod. It was a trio of very interesting open-faced sandwiches. We both thought it would be like finger sandwiches, since there were three of them. Nope. They were large, and they were delicious. I cannot even remember what was in them all, but pretty sure there was 1) roast beef, shaved parmesan, asparagus, sprouts, and hummus, and 2) pickle, poached egg, smoked salmon, and capers, and then 3) soft cheese, pea shoots, roasted tomatoes, and crispy pancetta. Wow. I can’t believe we finished all our food. It was all delicious.

After lunch we drove into downtown Hamilton, walked along Victoria Street, and visited the Waikato Museum where we learned all about the Maori waka taua (carved wooden war canoe). We also got a requisite photo with Richard O’Brien’s Riff Raff Statue.

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We saw the first of two Michael Parekowhai art pieces:

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The Tongue of the Dog, sculpture by Michael Parekowhai. We visited the building in this photo, ArtsPost, the original Hamilton Post Office turned art gallery. (photo credit: pictaram.com)

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Riff Raff Statue honoring Richard O’Brien, creator of Rocky Horror Picture Show. They say it looks just like him.

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After our walk through downtown Hamilton, we drove and then hiked into Bridal Veil Falls, near Raglan.

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Bridal Veil Falls. Raglan, New Zealand.

Then visited some more beaches. I do love beaches…

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Ngarunui Beach. (Raglan)

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Ngaranui Beach. (Raglan)

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Kite surfer at Wainamu Beach. (Raglan)

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Fresh Green Lipped Mussels at Raglan Pier.

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Raglan Pier.

We also took the train in and spent a day with Ruby in the big city of Auckland.

We visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum and learned a lot more about New Zealand’s involvement in war than we previously knew, which was admittedly nothing.

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The Auckland War Museum also has amazing Maori exhibits and an interesting Volcano exhibit.

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Ruby purchased for each of us at the museum cafe, an ANZAC biscuit (aka cookie). I could tell from looking at it (and smelling it) that it had coconut in it. Just ask my friend Totally Caroline how much I love coconut (NOT!!!). But I ate it because Ruby wanted me to. And I hate just a little less coconut that is hard and has been cooked INTO something… I really won’t eat that fluffy white stuff on top of cakes. Seriously, I won’t. Anyway, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, was established in World War I, and these cookies were apparently sent to soldiers because they did not spoil easily. They are just hard, sweet little cookies, but apparently, are still manufactured and sold Down Under. Perhaps that will be my one and only ANZAC biscuit! No picture, but it looks like a hard oatmeal cookie.

Ruby took us to this funky Sea Life Aquarium that reminded me a bit of something I might have visited with my parents as a child in the 70’s. We did, however, get to see a number of penguins and those would end up being the only penguins we would see on our entire trip. (foreshadowing: we were supposed to see penguins on one of our cruise excursions, but didn’t. more on that later)

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After a lovely dish of ice cream, Ruby walked us to the pier we would be leaving from for our 16-night cruise. At the pier was where we saw the second Michael Parekowhai art exhibit.

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The Lighthouse 2017 by Michael Parekowhai. “The Lighthouse is just that – a house filled with light. Its exterior takes the form of a traditional 1950’s New Zealand home, based on a house on the Eden-Roskill border. The exterior colors reference site and environment on Queens Wharf and the space between the sea and the sky. Inside reveals something different and unexpected. The English Channel, a polished stainless steel sculpture of Captain James Cook, occupies the void. Cook is contemplative. He faces the northwest and the light constellations dance off his highly polished surface.” (quote taken from ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz) The photo is mine.

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Our Cruise Ship, the Azamara Journey, docked in Auckland, NZ.

Saying good-bye to Ruby was very difficult. As we watched her walk back up the pier to the train station, off to her suburban New Zealand home, we immediately missed her. It is so difficult to leave friends you know you won’t see for what could be a very long while. We honestly feel so grateful to have such wonderful Kiwi friends.

And then we boarded our ship for the next phase of our adventure.

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Our cruise ship departed Auckland at dusk for the Bay of Islands (north north island).

We can’t wait to return to our New Zealand friends, new and old. Next up, some very stormy seas and some absolutely amazing sights. ❤

New Zealand, week one: new friends

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Arriving Auckland, New Zealand

We were delighted when we boarded our plane from Tokyo to Auckland and found out the flight would be approximately nine hours. Nine hours on a plane is do-able for us. That’s about how long it takes to fly from Portland to Tokyo and we do that all the time. For some reason I thought it was more like 13.5 hours (foreshadowing, that’s the length of the flight from Sydney to Portland, oy).

So, I did something months ago I have never in my life done before. I invited myself to someone’s house. Not just for a howdy, or a meal, but I actually invited myself (and Blue Eyes) to stay at this person’s house(s) for three nights. She happens to be someone I had never met. I know, what was I thinking? Well, I’ll tell you what. I have been conversing with her by blog and by messenger for what seems like forever. I think maybe it has been close to two years now. We are not so similar in some ways, and very similar in others. Regardless, I could tell from her blog, her writing, and our conversations that she is someone I want to have a relationship with. She is someone I want to know, better. Most of you regular betrayed spouse bloggers know her as “horses,” “horsesrcumin,” or by her real and lovely name, Paula (Paula’s Blog). A big part of my reason for wanting to get to New Zealand, a place that has been on my wish list FOREVER, but kept getting pushed aside due to sheer distance from, well, everything in our lives, was to meet Paula. Well, I’m here to report, it’s just not far enough away for me to use that excuse anymore. I will return to New Zealand. In the meantime, I must tell you more about the wonderful Paula.

Not only did she agree to house us, but she also picked us up from the airport! A couple friends have asked me if I was nervous to meet this person who I only really knew from my blog. Well, this is not my first rodeo, people. I started meeting blogger friends a couple years ago and I have met a few. I talk all the time on here about how blogger friends know me better than most real life family and friends. The Kat on this blog is real. How I write is who I am. Meeting me, if someone were so inclined, should be an easy transition. What you see is what you get. And, you guys know my deepest darkest secrets (and my weight, yikes!!! 😉 ). Well, not secrets so much as the shit that happened and what transpired after that. Same with Paula. Her blog represents her. We both like to just talk it out. An online journal if you will. We’ve also both learned to take some comments and commenters with a grain of salt. Learned that one the hard way. I knew we would get along. Paula was also instrumental in my decision NOT to contact the other woman all those months ago. Her cautionary tale convinced me that contact would most likely not have the outcome I desired. And I believed her. And I am better off for her advice.

Paula admitted that she was a little nervous about meeting us/me, that special breed of human called Americans, on that February morning at Auckland airport. I don’t think I thought about the whole thing long enough to be nervous. The reason I had asked to stay with Paula was because they live a bit rural. I didn’t want to go all the way to New Zealand without being able to meet Paula and I really wanted to spend a little time with her. I knew neither Blue Eyes or I was equipped to drive in New Zealand, and Paula lives in the countryside so I wasn’t even sure if there was an alternative place to stay nearby. Anyway, I was very excited. It was a big adventure for me. Everything was exciting at that point. Of course I tried to get in on the wrong side of the car, Paula was expecting that. I actually did that for a couple days. She drove us to her beautiful and tranquil farm and set us up in a lovely room.

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The view from our guest room. I know! You want to go there right now, don’t you!

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My new friend Maple on the bed, beautiful linens. She had a good time rough housing with Blue Eyes.

I had the pleasure of meeting Maple, the adorable long haired dachshund/terrier mix, and then me, Blue Eyes, Paula, and Rog took a walk at the amazing Blue Springs, very near their home.

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Te Waihou Walkway is internationally acclaimed with water so pure it supplies approximately 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water.

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The spring is fed from the Mamaku Plateau where the water takes up to 100 years to filter through; the resulting water is so pure and clean that it produces a beautiful blue color while being virtually clear (hamiltonwaikato.com)

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We may or may not know the two blokes in the picture. I’m not sayin’.

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Water from the Blue Spring flows at a rate of 42 cubic metres per minute and could fill a 6 lane (25 metre) swimming pool in around 12 minutes. The water temp is a constant 11 degrees celsius throughout the year. (hamiltonwaikato.com)

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The walk to the springs follows a track alongside the Waihou River, through wetlands, across rolling pastoral land and features views of small waterfalls, native bush and the famous Blue Spring with glimpses of trout along the way. (hamiltonwaikato.com)

After our walk, we took an exciting drive around the farm. What a huge and gorgeous piece of property full of rolling hills (and sheep), green pastures (and cows), beautiful rock cliff faces, and pine forests.

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Hey ladies, what’s shaking.

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Old waterwheel in one of the many pine forests on the property.

That evening, Paula and Rog made us one of THE most delicious meals we have ever eaten. We were hungry, and the food was fresh and simply made. Amazing! I was so hungry I didn’t even take a photo, bugger that! Fresh rack of lamb with a mint and herb sauce straight from the garden, roasted potatoes and a big healthy salad. Simple, fresh food is the best. Blue Eyes has been talking about that meal ever since!

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Dusk, and rolling green hills, and sheep, all outside Paula’s living room. Heaven!

Monday was all about the Waitomo caves. First glow worm caves (no pics allowed), then the Aranui Cave full of stalactites and stalagmites.

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IMG_3451We enjoyed a really lovely Italian dinner out with Paula and Rog that evening in the town of Cambridge.

Tuesday we headed to the Lake House (bach–pronounced like batch, not like bach the composer). What a beautiful spot. Blue Eyes wanted to just stay there for the rest of our vacation. On our drives between sights and houses, Paula and I never stopped talking. Unfortunately, Paula talks quite fast and I may have missed a few bits of the conversations. I often felt like I needed subtitles. It was a whole lot of fun.

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We took a walk to a little park near the bach. This is the glorious Lake Taupo.

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Little Beach on Lake Taupo near the Bach.

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Blue Eyes loves panoramas. This is his shot of the view from the bach just before a little rain shower. It was a beautiful night.

Wednesday morning we drove back into a town close to Paula’s farm and Paula handed us off to my old work friend, Ruby (who is from North Carolina, but has been living in New Zealand for nearly three decades). It was a bit of a quick exit, what with trying to fit our luggage into Ruby’s teeny tiny car, and not wanting to break down and cry at having to say good-bye to our new friend so soon (both me AND Blue Eyes were about to lose it). I had never wanted to overstay our welcome or burden Paula and Rog, but if we had had our way, we would have stayed with Paula longer. In the end, we couldn’t stay with her forever, and she has work, and a big paper to finish, and well, it was so worth getting a little out of my comfort zone and making this connection across the world. I hope we can reciprocate very soon.

More to come…

 

I’m baaack

Okay, so anyone else picturing Jack Nicholson? Just me? Moving right along…

I think this is the longest break I have taken from blogging since I started this thing 2 1/2 years ago. I wanted to write, I really did, on some days at least, but it seems the entire six weeks of our holiday we were either having fun with friends new and old, on some all day excursion, or the wifi was shitty. That’s the truth. I opened my laptop twice, maybe, the entire trip, and I’m pretty sure that was to pay bills. I find it super difficult to pay bills electronically on a smart phone. Anyhoo, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Our trip had changed a bit since I originally posted about it. Blue Eyes vacillated back and forth on whether he wanted to do a business trip to Tokyo on the front end. He was able to schedule a boat load of meetings, and flying through Tokyo would shorten the flight to Auckland, so we opted for yet another trip to our home away from home, Japan. Our flight from Portland to Tokyo was a nightmare. I am not very superstitious, but I was sure hoping that very first leg of our trip wasn’t some crazy omen. We left Portland a few hours late due to heavy winds in the Tokyo area. The flight, which is normally max 10 hours (most times closer to 9) was 11 hours. Ugh. They tried to land twice at Narita Airport, but failed. Meanwhile while they were trying to land, our plane was being tossed around in the sky, pretty dramatically, and people were actually getting sick. Worst flight I have ever been on. Eventually they diverted us to Haneda Airport, also in Tokyo. We then sat on the tarmac in the plane for four hours. First they were going to try again to get us back to Narita (that plan was scratched), then due to all the diverted planes, there was no transportation available to get us from the tarmac to the terminal. Not sure why we were not able to actually pull up to an empty gate (there were plenty of them at this time of night), but we weren’t. Probably staffing issues. Of course they don’t give you any information other than to continually promise that they will get us off the plane “soon.” Eventually they transported us by bus to Customs. We had originally been scheduled to arrive our hotel at 5:00pm. We finally checked in at a few minutes past midnight. Blue Eyes had a 7:00am meeting the next morning. Ouch.

Our time in Tokyo was mostly business. We did get to have a fun dinner with GQ, but the princess was once again sick. I hate when that happens. We dined with my brother at a lovely old Sukiyaki Restaurant near Asakusa Temple.

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Asakusa Temple

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Sukiyaki Dinner at Imahan Bekkan

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The perfect Japanese Style dessert after a heavy meal: three perfect strawberries dusted in confectioner’s sugar.

I was bound and determined to keep up my exercise routine, so I spent an hour each day in the gym. I would have preferred to walk around outside, but in attempting to pack “light” for a six week trip, I was unable to fit in a lot of winter clothes and it was colder in Tokyo than expected. No matter how many layers I attempted, it really wasn’t enough. My first trip to the gym was a bit triggering. I was having some of those creeping thoughts. It’s that Marunouchi area of Tokyo, once again, that does it to me. A double edged sword. My favorite Tokyo location to stay, but still a bit tainted by my husband’s sordid past. My view from the gym was of a bunch of gray office buildings and a little Lawson’s convenience store (like a 7-11, or what is called a “dairy” in New Zealand. I feel so worldly now 😉 ). As I set up my phone/headphones/music and programmed the Elliptical, I couldn’t help but stare at that damn convenience store and think about those trips. The trips where the first thing they did was head to a Lawson’s (Lawson’s are everywhere in Japan, especially across from hotels) and pick up snacks to eat in the room so they didn’t have to order room service, or be seen together outside the hotel. I tried pushing the thoughts out, but they persisted. The first song to randomly play as I started peddling was Pink’s ‘I Don’t Believe You,’ fast forward, then OneRepublic’s ‘Apologize,’ fast forward, then Christina Perri’s ‘Jar of Hearts.’ ACK. Fuck it, I need to download some new more uplifting music! I closed out my iTunes, and turned on the machine’s television and watched NCIS dubbed in Japanese. By day two I figured out how to turn off the dubbing and I ended up watching an episode of a show called Rizzoli and Isles, in English. Pretty hokey, but not triggering.

It didn’t take long for the triggers to melt away. I guess what I have done is train myself to not let the creeping thoughts, the traumatic mind games if you will, take me over. I know it takes time to be able to do this, because believe me, I never wanted to be obsessed with those thoughts. I can push them out and away now. If a song is triggering, I turn it off instead of living in that space. I have to do this, consciously, in order to live with the life I have chosen, and I’m good with that. Some days are a little more difficult than others.

By the end of the week, all triggering thoughts were gone and I was ready to face the world… Down Under. Before getting on another plane though, I had scheduled myself a day of indulgence. After a relaxing facial, a gentle neck massage, and a soak in the Onsen tub, I was off to a gorgeous afternoon tea at our hotel. What a treat! I wish Blue Eyes had been able to join me, but he was at yet another of his many many meetings that week. He does it to himself, so I shall never feel guilty for taking care of myself in this process. We all have choices. Blue Eyes was a bit hyped up while we were in Japan. The environment does it to him. It is one of the most difficult places for him to manage his addiction… and that’s his issue, not mine. I have learned to better ignore his workaholism under the circumstances in order to focus on myself. I do wish my boys had been able to join me for tea, however. I have the most amazing memories of our little family enjoying this indulgent and relaxing tradition. The afternoon tea at the Four Seasons Marunouchi was divine and even included a gift of a little bottle of Ferragamo perfume. I also fell in love with the cherry tea I ordered. I purchased a bag of loose tea from the restaurant and I just found it in my luggage and tossed it in a box that I will take to the beach house this weekend. Ah, life is good!

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The savories at afternoon tea: croquette with squid ink and brandard, mackerel and wine reduction terrine, salmon and mascarpone ball, mini wagyu burger, cheese puff, and truffle popcorn and cumin chips.

Next up… New Zealand!

Charting progress

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Mmm, Hollyhocks. ❤

This is year four of journaling on Valentine’s Day. For a day that I have never cared much about, it seems, I sure do like to write about it.

Journal Entry: Valentine’s Day 2014

Journal Entry: Valentine’s Day 2015

Journal Entry: Valentine’s Day 2016

I actually don’t think I like to write about it at all, I think it is just a big fat triggering day all the way around and has prompted pain since discovery, but I have left all that crap in the dust (all that crap being obsessing over how my husband took another woman with him to Asia for Valentine’s Day seven years ago and the fact that he even “had” another woman for eight years, WTF?) and am just going to enjoy the day. It goes without saying (but I am going to say it anyway, to remind myself) my husband never loved his acting out partner. He never cared about her feelings, he never wanted a life with her, she was a drug, she means nothing. She did not deserve that day with him in Tokyo, she never deserved even one minute of his time.

I, on the other hand, deserve everything that comes with having a life partner who respects and loves me. No one is perfect, people make mistakes, some people are addicts and make REALLY BIG MISTAKES, but we are past that (she says as she is still writing about it). So, what am I doing today (besides writing this)? I am packing for a glorious six week trip (five days and counting till lift off). Later, we will go to our favorite romantic Italian restaurant in downtown Portland for a lovely dinner and then jet off to the beach house for an intimate evening alone listening to the waves crash right outside our door. And I mean LITERALLY outside our door. There have been some crazy high tides this season and at one point a wave made its way all the way up onto our deck. Thankfully this only happens about once a decade… at least that is what they tell us.

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A frosty February morning at the edge of our deck with driftwood that washed up a couple days before.

I know I won’t have any break downs today. I won’t cry and I won’t be depressed and I won’t be licking my wounds. At dinner, I won’t be staring at the sidewalk outside the restaurant wondering if the whore will make an appearance. I know she won’t, and even if she does, joke’s on her. I know all this because I have been jolted into awareness over the past three years. I am intimately aware of everything going on inside me now, and I can chart my healing progress through my very own blog entries. This is where I am today. I’m a little anxious about leaving for six weeks. I am a little daunted by figuring out what to pack for the combination of Tokyo, NZ & Australia. I am excited to be sharing dinner with my partner of 33 years at one of our absolute favorite restaurants. I am beyond thrilled that we can spend the night in our very own beach house. On this February 14th, I will be enjoying a romantic night with the love of my life. I have confidence that I’m right where I should be.

The long and winding road

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Eight days until we leave for Tokyo, fifteen days until we land in Auckland.

The road out is not straight and smooth. I felt bad for Blue Eyes last week. He attended a meeting with one of his favorite 12 step guys and during sharing he found out the guy had lost his sobriety a couple weeks prior. He was four years in and now he’s starting over at zero. It happens and from my outsider’s position, it knocks the breath out of the guys in the room. Of course I am not in that room, but if Blue Eyes is any indicator, when one guy loses it, it’s like a big neon sign constantly flashing in their periphery that says… IT COULD BE YOU. YOU ARE THAT VULNERABLE. STOP FOOLING YOURSELF, and it’s scary. I know it seems so simple for those of us who are not addicts to just say “are you fucking kidding me???” “Do you not remember the havoc you wreaked on your life by lying and keeping a shameful secret???” “Do you not love me enough to not hurt me anymore???” “How could you even think about acting out sexually after everything you have learned about yourself and all the work you have done???”

As I have said before, I get it. The empath in me can feel what it must be like to have a fairly easily accessible drug that I know for sure works to help calm me, to help ground me, to–if just for the most fleeting of moments–make me feel whole. Some days I feel like I am a food addict. I have actually looked into it, especially after being away at a facility where a good majority of the participants were, in fact, food addicts. You don’t have to be 300 pounds to be a food addict. I feed my emotions with food sometimes and if I felt like I was not in touch with my feelings and what drives me to overeat or eat things I know are not good for me, I would certainly haul my ass off to meetings. Some days I use sex to soothe, to help me feel closer to my life partner, but I am not a sex addict either. I don’t hide inside my own head lying to myself and others. I don’t deny my reality and I don’t hurt others with my behavior.

A really difficult aspect of this healing process is separating ourselves from someone else’s recovery. I need what I need to continue, and he has his own shit. If it wasn’t for the fact that both of us want to be together, who knows where our paths would lead…

I have been in a nesting mood lately. After three years of not caring what my house looks like, or whether the laundry was piled up, or how old the pasta was sitting in a box in the pantry, suddenly I woke up and realized I wanted my house back. Part of my desire to purge may have to do with how wonderfully clean and uncluttered the beach house is, I don’t want to leave it. But I do have to come home. One Saturday I cleaned the pantry from top to bottom, then I tackled the laundry and have decided I want a laundry room makeover so I scheduled a meeting with our designer and a contractor. I am also in the process of cleaning up my desktop computer and my desk drawers. Whenever I do this I run across something I wrote since discovery. This email was written to Blue Eyes approximately six months post d-day.

Please read the attached elephant journal entry. For the most part, I think I was this girl when you met me. Even though I was only 20 years old, I had lived sufficiently by myself without ever letting anyone in. I consciously and purposely did not let anyone in. I fell in love with you and then gave you the most important thing I had to give, myself—wholly and unconditionally.

I love you very much, but things went terribly wrong in our marriage. I resent the fact that in your Japan journal you said that I wasn’t independent enough. Sort of ironic, don’t you think. You took the most independent person you had ever met and you sucked the life out of her. I do not even recognize myself anymore. I want to be whole again. I want to live and laugh again. I know you have a long journey ahead of you… please remember to honestly and wholly respect me for who I am. I don’t ever want to be compartmentalized out again. I don’t ever want to be treated like a member of your staff again. I do not ever want to be disrespected again. I cannot live that way.”

How to Love a Girl Who Doesn’t Know How to be Loved

I was especially taken with point #4 of the article:

4. Don’t be two halves of a whole, be two wholes that make an even greater whole.

Remember that this “Miss Independent” is just that—an independent chick with an ability to fend for herself. She might even be afraid of relying on others, no matter how much she trusts them.

Therefore, don’t think of a relationship with her as one that joins two halves together to make a whole; she won’t treat it as such, and she definitely won’t feel comfortable if you do. Rather, see it as two wholes becoming an even greater whole—two individuals who love each other enough to respect the other’s independence and uniqueness.

This includes honoring her need for alone time. She realizes that you are a person with or without her and asks that you see her in the same way. Being able to spend time apart is important to her; she doesn’t want to rely on your presence, nor does she want you to rely on hers.

Don’t try to spend every hour of every day with her unless you want her to feel so bombarded that she tailspins into a mess of tears, word vomit and utter confusion, ending with her breaking it off and swearing to never interact with another human ever again.

But when you are together, be together. Completely. Let her know she is loved until she begins to understand what that feels like, and then keep doing it. If it’s right, she’ll come around. And because she’s loyal by nature, she’ll stick around, too (so don’t give her any reason to think that you won’t).

Then, in the email to Blue Eyes, I included some inspirational quotes for the both of us, mostly Dalai Lama:

A PRECIOUS HUMAN LIFE

“Every day, think as you wake up

today I am fortunate to have woken up.
I am alive. I have a precious human life.
I am not going to waste it.

I am going to use
all my energies to develop myself,
to expand my heart out to others,
to achieve enlightenment for
the benefit of all beings.

I am going to have
kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry,
or think badly about others.

I am going to benefit others
as much as I can.”

and another:
“When you are discontent,
you always want more, more, more.
Your desire can never be satisfied. But
when you practice contentment, you
can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes—I already
have everything I really need.’”

and another:
“The true hero is one who conquers his own anger
and hatred.”
-Dalai Lama XIV

and another:
Five Simple Rules for Happiness
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

and another:
“ I am me,
I’m who I’m meant to be.
I am my past, my present and
who I want to be.
I’m not any one, I am all three.
I am a work in progress, a destiny.
I am who I choose to be,
I am me.

The quotes were truly as much for me as for Blue Eyes. Somewhere along the way, I forgot how independent I really am. Somewhere in my trauma I had become but half of a whole person. I forgot who I was. Thankfully I am back, and Blue Eyes is working his way towards being that whole person he never was.

So, what was wrong with my marriage?

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Flowers make me smile. I need smiles. Icelandic Poppies

I have spent a great deal of time over the past three years defending my marriage in my own mind. Mainly because I needed to come to terms with whether it was worth it to me to keep nurturing it. What it all really comes down to, for me, has nothing to do with a marriage certificate. That certificate is a legal document and affords me certain rights per our government, and possible tax benefits. Since I have never been religious, I can say with all honesty that the Ketubah I signed on July 29, 1989, which was theoretically designed by Jewish Law to protect me (theoretically being an important clarifier), meant very little to me intellectually or emotionally, and apparently it meant nothing to my husband either. I had recently converted to Judaism for the sake of having a united religious partnership and identity with my husband if and when we had children. As I have mentioned, I was baptized Episcopalian when I was seven, but also attended the LDS church from ages 7-17.

Blue Eyes and I did have children, two boys, and we raised them in the Jewish faith (so to speak) and by Jewish Law (reformed), since I was Jewish (having converted) my boys are considered Jewish regardless. But again, I have never been a religious person myself so in the long run the way I look at it, people can define what they are for themselves, however they want. Although religion is no longer a regular part of our daily lives (me and Blue Eyes), we both have a unique spirituality. Spirituality to me is my connection to myself and to the world around me. A conscious knowing that I want to be good, and kind, and helpful, and loving and giving and then doing my best to act genuinely, always. I lost that spirituality on d-day. I didn’t lose my love for others, or my desire to be kind, but I did lose touch with myself, and for a while there, I lost touch with my sanity. Blue Eyes, well… let’s just say it had been a very long time (if ever) since Blue Eyes had actually been in touch with himself or thought about what was right or what made him a good human being. As discussed quite a bit here on this blog, Blue Eyes was broken (is broken). He didn’t feel worthy of love. He didn’t feel successful or good about himself. At any moment, he felt his world would come crashing down in a hailstorm of the bad he had perpetrated on the world around him, especially on those he claimed to love most. This is addiction. We know that. We just never knew Blue Eyes was an addict.

Back to the whole marriage thing. What was wrong with my marriage? I will never again fall into the trap of believing somehow me or our marriage was to blame for my husband’s cheating. It wasn’t. And on so many days both before and since discovery, I have been thankful for my husband because despite the faults he does have, he has some unique and wonderful qualities that I wouldn’t trade. I married him for many reasons and although he broke numerous promises made on our wedding day, I still love him for who he is, deep down in there, despite his broken promises. Even if he couldn’t see the good in there, I could. We are all the sum of all of our acts, good and bad. What was wrong with my marriage, however, because there was something wrong with it, was that I gave too much. I gave too much and Blue Eyes took too much. It wasn’t balanced. I compromised, a lot. This is not really about what town we live in, or where we grocery shop, or what style house we build at the coast. This is about what our heart needs, deep down inside. My heart needed my husband to put me ahead of his own broken and selfish desires. My heart needed my husband to be home, to help raise our children, to hold me when I needed holding. Instead, he was off, pursuing his career, and his addiction, assuming the whole time that I was strong enough to handle anything. Those days are over. My heart still hurts as I type this here. My heart hurts because I placed it in the hands of someone who was not ready for the responsibility. It wasn’t that he wasn’t capable, it was that he wasn’t ready. I believe this now, but it has taken me a while to get to this place. I need to know that I am valued and not taken for granted. I need him to acknowledge through his behavior that it is no longer okay to lie about me or to me, especially lies of omission. I need to know that Blue Eyes is willing to expose the most vulnerable parts of himself to me. I have always done that for him. I need to know that Blue Eyes is pursuing life based on the promises he made to himself, since discovering he is an addict. He spent over a year coming to terms with his childhood, his addiction, his life’s desires, his self-imposed boundaries. Those were extremely important months and without that hard work on his part, we wouldn’t be together. I need him to know that he was given a second chance… a second chance to be my partner. No matter what I do, he will go on. Of course I know that. I will too. This isn’t about the past or about his recovery. This is about our partnership. I have acknowledged that I let myself be taken advantage of. I won’t do that again.

Let the count down begin…

Well, I know I am a little premature with this count down, but that is how insanely excited I am for the upcoming trip we will embark upon next month. And maybe I am just a teeny bit stir crazy at this point since I have not really been out of the house for a week now (and two weeks before that due to illness… hair color from my stylist is THAT important people, my only trip in a car in three weeks). We did take a 2-mile walk to Starbucks with the dogs on Saturday, but that is about it for me. Every time I am out in the cold for more than a few minutes, my cough returns. We still have a foot of snow and I guess the big meltdown starts tomorrow, I hope. We all know there will be flooding with the upcoming warm rain event in the forecast, but the snow has to go away some time!

I am trying to combat my normal travel anxiety (what will I pack–how many climate changes will there be, can I fit everything in one suitcase, what to do with the pets, will we be able to communicate regularly with our sales guys, can I even remember how to use my expensive Nikon camera, will our 23 year old destroy our house, etc… ). We have never been away from home for this long. We will fly to Auckland, New Zealand on February 25 (25/2/17 is how I am told to write it 🙂 ) and return from Sydney, Australia on April 2 (2/4/17). That is a LONG time away from home. Blue Eyes is totally freaked out about being away from our office for that long. Truthfully, when I booked this trip over a year ago, I had no idea we would still be in the throes of finalizing completion and financing of the beach house. That was all scheduled to be complete by September LAST YEAR. I thought our finances would be all squared away and we would have spent the better part of the fall and winter visiting the beach house regularly. Blue Eyes and I have agreed that now that we have a second home (almost), we will take one vacation per year. We still travel for business, of course, but dedicated leisure travel, one trip. And then here we are, with two trips already planned for 2017. First, this monstrously long trip Down Under, and then a vacation to Hawaii later in the year. Our Timeshare and lots of miles allow that vacation to be really budget friendly, but now that there is a Four Seasons just a hop skip and a jump from our timeshare, well, at least a few days will be spent there as well. Some people call me spoiled, but I EARNED these trips by working my ass off for nearly 40 years and also, well, I think everyone here knows the rest, so I shall not feel bad about it.

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From that to this in 40 days! YIPPEE!

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Approximately 2/3 of our time will be spent in New Zealand, visiting friends and then 16 nights on a small-ish cruise ship circling the country before heading over to Tasmania and then ending in Sydney. The majority of our time in Australia will be spent in the Ayers Rock area of Uluru and at an eco-retreat and beach nature reserve near the Great Barrier Reef. We welcome all suggestions to those who live Down Under or who have visited and want to share. Not sure when we will return to this area of the world, so we are all in on this one.

In the meantime, I am back to focusing on my healthy “new” lifestyle. My goal through the end of the year was to maintain health, and the weight I had lost, of course. Well… that didn’t work out so well since I was sick quite a bit of that time, craving comfort food, and unable to exercise. Here I am, back at it. I gained 4 lbs. since October 15, and still feel sluggish from being down and out for so many weeks. My blood glucose levels are creeping back up, but the great thing is, I know how to fix all this. I know what works for me. Here I go…. 40 days and counting.

 

 

Snowed in

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It’s January 11, 2017 here in the U.S. and we are covered in snow, and it’s snowing again. We rarely get a lot of snow in Portland. We’re in a funny weather pocket. Our winters are usually fairly temperate, above freezing at least. We generally get one cold weather front per season. It might bring a little snow, but often brings freezing rain or a cold snap with no moisture. Generally a 1-2 day affair, sometimes the below freezing patterns last for up to a week, but with no moisture, no problem (except for the rather large homeless population). This winter we are being slammed. It started in Autumn actually. It seems we are having snow and ice events weekly. Yesterday afternoon it started snowing and didn’t stop all night. We are sitting with a foot and a half of snow in our yard. That’s A LOT for a city with very little winter weather infrastructure. We have limited snow plows (those we do have mainly focus on the highways, and their ability to keep up with any winter weather event is a joke), some de-icing capabilities, we don’t salt the roads here, so generally, we are on our own. Most people don’t have chains because it just doesn’t seem worth it for the one short-lived snow event per year. Turns out, this is weather event #4 and it’s not even mid-January and it looks like the snow is here to stay for at least four more days. Thankfully we have nowhere to go, so we can enjoy the winter wonderland, for now.

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Our little Aussie loves the snow.

It’s also anniversary #3 of the day I received a phone call from a woman claiming to be my husband’s mistress. It still, even three years later, feels so strange typing that. It doesn’t seem real. Ironically it almost feels less real now than it did three years ago. Does that make sense? So much has changed in our lives. The shock of that phone call and the aftermath now feel much more like an awakening, than a trauma event.

The exact time of the call has come and gone, another year has passed. The phone call itself holds very little trauma or trigger points for me anymore. It is, however, the only real point in time that I can remember where time seemed to stand still. Other major events in my life, high school graduation for example, or the moment we were married, or our first child being born, feel more like events on a continuum, not moments in time. Just regular old life experiences as part of a long, somewhat planned out, bigger picture. I barely remember our wedding day kiss. That event was one big blur of activity. I remember standing with my parents at the end of the aisle, a long white clothed walkway covering the grass of the 10th tee at my in-laws country club, thinking… I hope I don’t trip over my dress…  When our first son was born, it was a long drawn out process and I was so exhausted from the ordeal and so anxious that he would be okay, so worried when he was life flighted from one hospital to another while I was still stuck in bed, paralyzed from the waist down. Although it was traumatic, pregnancy and childbirth are often fraught with unknowns, and we know this going in. I remember all these moments in my life as part of a process of living a life I wanted. I was equipped to deal with a certain amount of uncertainty in the certainty of the life I planned for myself.

The moment of the phone call from the other woman, however, was unlike any other moment in my life. It was not expected or even contemplated as part of my life plan. The concept that my husband would have an affair, or that he was an addict, well those thoughts never crossed my mind. That is why I was blown away. I was not prepared. It would never happen, so why would I prepare for it? I chose my husband because he was loving, kind, quirky, compassionate, devoted, caring, and he loved me with every part of his being.  I knew that for sure, and nothing could change my mind. In my world, a person like that is a great choice for a life partner. That person would never hurt me…

I have been incommunicado on my blog for three weeks now. First it was the holidays, and a visit from Princess Leila (she’s a real trip, that one), and then, on our drive home from the beach house two weeks ago, I started getting sick, again, but this time it was worse. It started with a cough and the telltale feeling that someone was standing on my chest… breathing became difficult. Then the fever, and more substantial coughing, body aches and pains… the flu with a dose of walking pneumonia thrown in for good measure. I am still not completely healthy. I thought I was doing pretty well until I spent a little time out in the snow last night with my boys and my fur babies. Sleeping was rough and this morning the cough was back along with the crackling sounds coming from my chest. I’m back to resting again. It just takes time.

This morning when I woke up, I rolled over to Blue Eyes and said, “it’s that day,” and he said, “I know.” The thing about “that day” now though, is that it is now a day to look back over what we have both accomplished in three years time, and that’s a lot. I no longer care about what prompted this particular anniversary date. What I really care about is that when I sat down on that day and my life seemed to stop, at least the life I knew, the life I had planned for and carefully nurtured, it stopped. I now have a different life than the one I thought I had or the one I thought I wanted… or more importantly the one I thought I NEEDED. What I had was not completely real. Now, I have a life I believe is more real, it’s more authentic, but more importantly, I have learned that no matter what is handed to me, and no matter who does the handing, I am prepared. I can do this life, no matter what. Bring it!

This morning Blue Eyes and I shared authentically, openly, honestly… both of us, about where we have been, and where we are. No tears. No trauma. Being snowed in has its advantages. Blue Eyes is still an addict. He doesn’t use a drug to cope anymore, but he is still an addict. Denying his addiction would stop his recovery dead in it’s tracks. Denying he still has a lot of work to do, would be living a false reality. When he feels shame, when he feels anxiety, when he feels exhausted, when he feels beat down, he knows what he needs to do to pick himself back up. And me, I get to be the same person I always was… just a little more scarred, but a little wiser, a little more sturdy, and a whole lot stronger. I still have my family. I still have a great life full of love and joy, forgiveness and compassion, full of travel and beach houses, but most of all, full of peace and happiness.

For sure this is not a path I ever dreamed for myself, and I certainly didn’t plan for it, but I was handed it anyway and I’m doing my best. Each day since discovery is a gift. I know that now. I have no bitterness in my heart on this day and it feels good. Flipping the channels on the television yesterday, I came across the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. I was sketching in preparation for some paintings I want to do in my new beach house painting loft and so I figured, why not. Sequels are never as good as the original, so I kept my expectations low. I was surprised Blue Eyes and I hadn’t already watched the movie. It fits his criteria, silly, potentially funny, not triggering. So I watched it by myself yesterday afternoon and during the closing scenes they play the John Legend Song, ‘All of Me’ and I cried. I sat there and cried. I haven’t done that in a long time. The nice thing though about yesterday is that I was crying happy tears, not sad, hurt or angry tears. I was crying because I love Blue Eyes that much, with all of me. I love him despite everything, and I know he loves me in that same way, all my curves and all my edges, my smart mouth, and my very own perfect imperfections.

 

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Glad we kept the lights up! It’s a beautiful night. ❤

He’s just not that type of guy

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The following TED talk was sent to me by a follower. It is one of the best descriptions of sex addiction I have seen thus far.

We Need To Talk About Sex Addiction

“The biggest barrier to getting help for sex addiction is the secrecy and shame that surrounds it”

“He doesn’t believe anyone could like him, let alone love him”

“He doesn’t believe anyone could ever really understand”

“He’s just not that type of guy”

“How could I not have known”

“I don’t care what we call it, what I care about is…” those suffering in silence

“Sex addiction thrives in secret, and in shame”

“Stop making moral judgments”

“It’s not a myth, or a joke, and it is certainly not fun”

It’s time to stop joking about sex addiction… belittling it, judging it, or denying it.

The power of compassion allows us to face the fact that we are all fallible, vulnerable human beings, we all make mistakes, we all have regrets, we all struggle with difficult emotions…